Introduction to climate services

Climate services explained

Climate services help people, communities, and economic sectors plan for climate change.

Climate services are developed based on the needs of users. Services include:

  • easy access to both historical and future climate data and information
  • training and guidance to help you understand climate change and its impacts
  • collaboration with climate experts
  • translation of  knowledge from climate experts into information that is clear and meaningful

Climate services can help you better understand current climate vulnerabilities, risks, and opportunities. They can support planning and decision-making to become more resilient to the expected impacts of future climate change.

Why climate services are important

Knowledge of the climate is based on daily measurements of weather conditions. These measurements are used to calculate long term averages and extremes. This provides knowledge of the recent past climate, including its variability.

Climate information is useful in preparing for climate-related risks. The stability of long-term climate patterns has formed the basis of many decision-making processes, as past climate has been a reliable indicator of future conditions. For example, farmers have been able to choose crops that can be grown successfully based on the historic climate conditions of their area.

However, the climate is now changing. The past climate is no longer a predictor of the future climate. New assumptions about climate must be applied to allow Canadians to adapt to changing conditions. Climate services can help you prepare for the expected changes. Climate services provide tools and support to help you understand how the changing climate may affect the things you care about. In turn, you will be able to increase your resilience to the impacts of these changes.

For some decisions, you may only need to consider short-term climate conditions. Take, for example, a bridge that has been known to flood during heavy rain. A city planner may use this knowledge to create alternate routes around that bridge. Other decisions may require you to understand the long-term projected climate conditions. That same city planner may need to consider whether more heavy rain events are anticipated in the future. If so, she may decide to build a new bridge to withstand greater amounts of flooding.

As climate services are used more and more, climate change will become integrated into decision-making. This will help us build a stronger, more resilient society. Climate services provide us with information we need to take action to help limit social and economic damage from climate change and climate-related disasters. They can also help us take advantage of the opportunities provided by a changing climate.

Related links

Sources
  • Charron, I. 2016. A Guidebook on Climate Scenarios: Using Climate Information to Guide Adaptation Research and Decisions. Montreal, QC: Ouranos.
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2014. Foundations for decision making. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Online]. Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, USA: Cambridge University Press. pp. 195-228.
  • World Meteorological Association. [no date]. Global Framework for Climate Services.
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